The Provost’s Dog books are fantasy, set in Tortall, a country Pierce invented in 1983 in her first book, Alanna: The First Adventure. Among the major premises of that world is that individual people have magical abilities and that magical work is part of commerce; that the gods are actively involved in a small number of humans’ lives and that the boundaries between the real world and the realm of the gods can become more porous; and that the dead can communicate with the living.
But despite that setting, this is essentially a structural story. Beka Cooper, the main character, is a young cop (or Dog) in a deeply dysfunctional police force in Corus, Tortall’s capital city. She lives in a rooming house with a bunch of young ne’er-do-wells on the rise in the Court of the Rogue, the city’s criminal hierarchy. She and her partners are essentially an independent task force, senior enough to pursue investigations at their leisure. There’s even an avuncular judge, a gay criminal who’s willing to do deals, a real serial killer, and most importantly, an acknowledgement that government’s abilities are limited, and that sometimes you need extralegal organizations in order to maintain some semblance of order, but those groups are going to be less stable than government agencies.